The Data Quality Act Weston A. Price Foundation
Scientist Tyrone B. Hayes, a professor of integrative biology and an expert in frog development at the University of California at Berkeley, found that the herbicide atrazine had demasculinizing effects on male tadpoles leading to hermaphroditism after exposure of just 0.1 parts per billion, or the equivalent of one drop per 5,000 40-gallon barrels of water; and that 100 percent of male leopard frogs in regions that had been treated with atrazine had abnormal sex organs, compared to no such problem in untreated regions. Results like these led the European Union to ban atrazine starting in 2005. Yet, after 10 years of review, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) decided to permit ongoing use in the US, with no new restrictions. The EPA gave the chemical industry what it wanted by citing the recently approved Data Quality Act, written by Jim J. Tozzi, an industry lobbyist, and slipped into a giant appropriations bill in 2000 without congressional discussion or debate. It consists of just two sentences directing the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to ensure that all information disseminated by the federal government is reliable. According to John D. Graham, administrator of the OMB Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, the law will keep the federal government hewing to "sound science" and allows people and companies to challenge government they believe is inaccurate. Conservationists point out that by demanding that the government use only data that have achieved a rare level of certainty, the act dismisses scientific information that in the past would have triggered tighter regulation. In the case of atrazine, the EPA responded to a petition filed by Mr. Tozzi working with atrazine’s primary manufacturer, Syngenta Crop Protection, by claiming that hormone disruption cannot be considered a "legitimate regulatory endpoint at this time." Other pending regulation challenged by industry under the Data Quality Act includes a ban on wood treated with heavy metals and arsenic in playground equipment, FDA recommendations to limit sugar intake and a report on the hazards of nickel in food and the environment. According to Rena Steinzor, a professor of law and director of the Environmental Law Clinic at the University of Maryland, the Data Quality Act is "a tool to clobber every effort to regulate. In my view, it amounts to censorship and harassment." Expect the Data Quality Act to be invoked as we lobby to remove another endocrine disrupter from the marketplace--soy infant formula.